The West Fork of the Pigeon offers several miles of steep class IV and V creeking with clear tanic water and a mix of great boulder and bedrock rapids. A significant step down in difficulty from the Big East Fork, but the West Fork still offers some big complex rapids, all of which can be reasonably portaged.
The first mile or so is class IV-V rock bouncing depending on flow. The river picks up a cleaner class IV-V character below Detention Center and continues with that character until the last mile where it turns into class III boogie. One rapid is typically portaged. This is a good one to follow a local down!
The put in is a nondescript pull-out along 215 a ways downstream of the Gargen of the Gods bridge (where 215 crosses the West Fork with the upstream view of a waterfall), and requires a short hike down into the gorge. The takeout is roadside at the confluence with the Middle Fork.
Chris Bell's Asheville Area Boating Beta Page probably has the best info on the run. See also Leland Davis's NC Rivers and Creeks. Here is a video of most of the run:
West Fork Pigeon from American Whitewater on Vimeo.
Ran this gem on 2/24/19. Level at the USGS 03455500 W F PIGEON R ABOVE LAKE LOGAN NR HAZELWOOD, NC gage was 900 to 600 cfs, dropping while we were on the run. We felt that this was a good first time level, but it could use a tad more water. Less water would be undesirable. Run is 3 miles, drops a tad over 750 so 250 feet per mile. Haywood County is the highlight, a big un.
Just for clarity's sake, this strainer mentioned in the post BELOW is a large old growth tree log, nearly river-wide, and has been there for years. Mandatory portage. According to "southeastcreekin" on BT, "Be careful it's blind and looks like any other drop on the river -- but paddling over that horizon line would be almost sure death!!! If you are unfamiliar with the run...scout everything that is blind until you get past it..its not worth taking a chance with this one." ....(actually, I've paraphrased his quote slightly to make it clearer. JP)
Another river hazard...W. Fork Pigeon in N.C. riverwide death sieve
Date: Mar 20, 2003 02:11 GMT
It's been mentioned on BT previously, but it's worth mentioning again. On the run putting in right below the Garden of the Gods madness to the place where the road runs right next to the river for the first time(the obvious takeout), it's about 2/3 of the way down. It's not obvious at all, and is apparently a relatively new feature. Be careful.
8 years ago
by Eric Daffron
minimum = 280, medium = 400 - 800, too high = 1000.
Permits are not required for this reach.
Putin- .3 miles below the Garden of the Gods bridge on 215.
Takeout- drive till you reach the confluence of Middle Prong and the West Fork.
Log Sieve Rapid
Log Sieve Waterfall
Haywood County Jail
Haywood County Jail , Bottom Drop
West Fork of the Pigeon
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The recent death of Chris Clark at Python Rapid on North Carolina's Cheoah River is the third at this site in the last six years. In each case, the person who died was an expert paddler and their paddling partners did not see exactly what happened. Let's take a close look at the Cheoah below Bear Creek Falls and develop strategies for future runs. The river here is very fast and continuous. After a fast lead-in (Chaos), the river drops over Bear Creek Falls, a 12' drop. Below, most of the flow pushes toward the river right channel (Python). Ferrying over to the easier river left channel (the West Prong) requires careful boat control. Python itself contains several nasty holes and sieves, with a bad hole blocked by a boulder at the bottom. There is a good route through it, but paddlers need to plan their route carefully. Scouting is a good idea for first timers, although catching eddies and getting out is not going to be easy. Groups need to stay together.. The rapid is tough enough that you can't watch your buddy all the time, but you can be ready to help if needed. Click through for links to the accident reports, photos, and comments from expert Cheoah River paddlers. (Photo above by Boyd Ruppelt)
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